Report: Top 6 Reasons Gen Z and Millennials Ghost
When you think of ghosting, the first thing that comes to mind may be the modern dating world. But the decision to stop talking with people without an explanation appears to be haunting its way into other aspects of life. Ghosting is becoming more common and almost typical in relationships with friends, workplaces, and even businesses!
We decided to go straight to the source and question Millennials and Gen Z who first turned this trend into a Merriam-Webster Dictionary word. In a survey of more than 1,000, we asked the younger generations if they’ve been ghosted or are the ones doing the ghosting. Turns out, 67% of those who have been ghosted have also flipped the switch and ghosted others. Here’s why.
Why do People Ghost?
Few have escaped ghosting in this day and age. 84% of Gen Z and Millennials shared they’ve been ghosted, and they don’t feel good about it. After being ghosted, people most commonly feel things like confusion, sadness, hurt, disappointment, and annoyance.
Despite all this, 3 in 4 think ghosting is appropriate in certain situations, and nearly 2 in 3 have ghosted someone else. It’s something that’s known as “reciprocal ghosting.”
“The high rate of reciprocal ghosting may be due to a cyclical emotional pattern,” says Licensed Clinical Psychologist Dr. Alexander Alvarado. “Once people experience the discomfort of being ghosted, they might unconsciously adopt the same behavior as a self-defense mechanism, thinking that it’s better to disengage first than risk emotional harm.”
More Gen Zers (77%) have ghosted than Millennials (61%), as well as more women than men. So, why do people ghost? The main reason people ghost is because they’re not interested in continuing the relationship. Other causes include avoiding confrontation or being stressed or overwhelmed by expectations. Nearly 1 in 3 shared they do it because they’re struggling with mental health.
After ghosting, more people feel respite than regret. A stunning 86% felt relief, many of those women (91%) over men (80%). Less than half felt regret for ghosting, and just about 7 in 10 felt guilty for it.
Ghosting in Dating vs. Ghosting in Friendships
The most infamous type of ghosting people probably think of is in the dating world. In fact, 2 in 3 think ghosting is a byproduct of online dating. People report being ghosted most often before the first date, but some people still disappear without a trace after meeting in person.
About 1 in 4 have been ghosted after the first date or after a couple of dates. Shockingly, 1 in 10 shared they’ve been ghosted after a couple of months of dating! Ghosting has made it such a pain that 30% of singles are fed up with dating in 2023.
However, ghosting isn’t limited to singles hoping to find love. Ghosting has crept into all manners of relationships including friendships. A surprising 1 in 2 reported being ghosted by a close friend. This has happened to more Gen Z compared to Millennials, as well as more women than men.
More than half admitted to ghosting a friend by abruptly cutting off all communication. The main reason for doing so? To avoid confrontation and not have to deal with any conflict in the relationship.
“I think a lot of us ghost others because that can feel like the “easiest” option at the time with the resources we have,” explains Marriage and Family Therapist, Lindsay Huckaba. “I recommend that people directly communicate what they are feeling and thinking. It is normal to not feel compatibility or connection with every person we meet. Letting someone know this can give them clarity and understanding around the relationship.”
Ghosting in the Workplace
One space that’s reported growing instances of ghosting is in the professional world. While 1 in 6 admitted to ghosting a prospective employer during the interview process, most people shared it’s the employers doing the ghosting! More than 2 in 5 have been ghosted by a prospective employer, most commonly in the interview stage.
As for prospective workers, the main reasons they ghost a workplace is because they just don’t want the job anymore, got another job, or had a bad interview experience. You’ve probably heard the phrase “Don’t burn bridges,” but some have ignored that advice when it comes to their career. 1 in 4 admitted to ghosting a workplace by quitting without notice or explanation!
Cities Most Likely to Ghost or Get Ghosted
So, where in the U.S. are people most likely to ghost or get ghosted? We analyzed Google searches in the 50 most populous cities to figure it out. The cities most likely to get ghosted are the ones that are searching the most about what ghosting is and why it’s happening to them. Meanwhile, the cities most likely to ghost are the ones searching the least about it!
The places most likely to ghost are some of the biggest cities in the nation. New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago made up the top three cities likeliest to ghost. It may be because it’s easier to ghost in a city filled with millions of people.
As for the cities most likely to get ghosted, watch out Minneapolis. People there are turning to Google more often than other places figure out why people might be ghosting them. Two Florida cities rounded out the top three: Miami and Tampa. Meanwhile, what happens in Vegas apparently stays or better yet disappears in Vegas, because the Sin City ranked 8th in the cities most likely to get ghosted.
It’s safe to say ghosting is here to stay, and that it’s creeping its way into every type of relationship. While ghosting may be a nice way to avoid confrontation and often hard conversations, we want to encourage you to work on your communication.
“Instead of ghosting, I recommend open communication,” says Alvarado. “If you’re no longer interested in continuing a relationship, it’s respectful to inform the other person directly. While this might be uncomfortable, it allows both parties to have closure and to move on without lingering questions.”
If you’re not sure how to approach the situation or where to start, reach out to a therapist to talk it through! In our opinion, it’s always better to talk through something than to avoid it out of fear.
In August 2023, we surveyed 1,014 Gen Z and Millennials about the act of ghosting and how it’s impacted their lives. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 42 with an average age of 32. 49% were male, 49% were female, and 2% were non-binary. 75% of respondents identified as heterosexual, 17% as bisexual, 3% as gay, 2% as lesbian, and 3% as other.
For this report, we also analyzed Google search volume of 418 terms related to ghosting such as “why do men ghost you,” “what does ghosting people mean,” “am I being ghosted” over the period from July 2020 to July 2023. We analyzed the 50 most populous cities in the United States according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The cities most likely to ghost people were the ones searching the least for these terms and the cities most likely to get ghosted were the ones searching for these terms the most.
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